Coronavirus: What we know now – JOHN NAISH analyses the findings of the world’s best brains as they start to unpick the lethal secrets of Covid-19

Saturday, April 11, 2020
By Paul Martin

By JOHN NAISH
DAILYMAIL.COM
10 April 2020

The world’s best brains are starting to unpick the lethal secrets of Covid-19 to work out what makes us vulnerable and how we can best defend ourselves.

Here, JOHN NAISH analyses their findings.

France’s chief advisor on coronavirus has confirmed that being overweight or obese greatly increases your chance of dying from the infection.


The world’s best brains are starting to unpick the lethal secrets of Covid-19 to work out what makes us vulnerable and how we can best defend ourselves

Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy claimed this put the US, where almost a third of the population are obese, particularly in peril. Indeed, being overweight is already being cited as the reason why the coronavirus death rate in New Orleans – where more than 40 per cent of middle-aged people are obese – is double that of New York, where 22 per cent of adults are obese.

In the UK, 58 per cent of patients who were obese and on ventilators died, compared with 44 per cent who were not overweight, according to figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC).

Professor Stefan Bornstein, a diabetes expert at King’s College London, said this is because two common complications of obesity – Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – weaken the immune system.

He claims the infection can also send blood pressure soaring – which could be fatal in victims where it’s already high. For those with diabetes, coronavirus can also infect the pancreas and interfere with insulin production.

Early statistics indicate that black and Asian people are more than twice as likely to have severe symptoms than whites. In the UK, some 35 per cent of critically ill patients with confirmed coronavirus are non-white, nearly three times the proportion in the overall population.

But this disparity could be caused by environmental factors, rather than race itself. Kamlesh Khunti, a professor in primary care diabetes at the University of Leicester, said: ‘For example, south Asians live in more deprived areas and have more cardiovascular disease and diabetes.’

Likewise, one in six black people live in overcrowded conditions compared with two per cent of the white British population. These poorer areas are also often plagued by another danger: air pollution, which significantly increases the risk of respiratory issues that can be fatal for coronavirus patients.

This group is also twice as likely to be affected by poverty, which is linked with lifestyle factors such as obesity.

The average critically ill patient is a 60-year-old male, according to the latest UK data from ICNARC. Figures from China also suggest that middle-aged men are at greater risk than women the same age.

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